When you get injured at work, it can disrupt your life significantly. Not only will you have to deal with pain and discomfort, but your finances will suffer. However, if your employer has coverage under Alabama’s workers’ compensation laws, you can get some measure of relief. This is provided that the employer understands his responsibilities and carries them out in a timely fashion.
You first need to confirm that you have coverage under the law. If your employer regularly employs five or more workers, you likely have coverage. However, there are a number of exceptions including:
Even though some employers are not mandated to carry workers’ comp insurance, they can elect to do so. This is the only option available for handling on-the-job injuries and occupational diseases. You should, therefore, find out where you stand with your employer. If you have concerns, a personal injury lawyer in Alabama can assist you.
It is important that you report your injury to your employer as soon as you know you’re injured. Along with your report, you need to make an application for workers’ compensation. Legally, you need to make your report within five days of the injury and within 90 days following the accident. Even if you don’t make a report, your employer has a responsibility to act once they know about your injury. They should also inform you about which doctor you should see for the Independent Medical Assessment.
Someone with the authority to act on behalf of the employer needs to complete a First Report of Injury form. The kickstarts the process of getting benefits. Your employer must then file a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf with their insurance company. You will need to follow up to ensure this done. You are well within your rights to ask for a copy of the claim form.
In Alabama, the employer only has to pay your medical benefits if you get treated by a doctor they approve. If you refuse treatment by the chosen doctor, you may lose your right to claim benefits. This applies even when you seek treatment from your personal doctor. You still have recourse if you are dissatisfied with the diagnosis or treatment of the approved doctor. In such a situation, the employer has to provide a list of four more doctors from which you can choose.
Your employer is liable for all your medical expenses provided they are due to your workplace injury. This includes both immediate costs and those expected in the future. You should also receive compensation for wages lost due to time spent away from work. However, a number of issues can arise between employers and employees when a request for compensation is filed.
Sometimes employers deny a worker’s application for benefits. If your employer insists that they are not liable, you should call the Workers’ Compensation Division. Ask to speak to an ombudsman who would act as a mediator between you and the employer. The other option is to reach out to an attorney so you can handle the case in the courts. You must file the complaint in court within two years of the accident.
Your employer may approve your claim but later ask you to return to work before you are fully healed. If you’ve been given time off by the doctor, you should stay home for as long as recommended. Don’t let your employer pressure you into returning earlier. Instead, contact an attorney to discuss your options if your employer wants you to return to work too soon. Resuming your duties before you are ready can put you at risk for further injury.
When in doubt about whether your employer is fulfilling their responsibilities or acting within the law, consult a personal injury lawyer in Alabama. Laws can be quite complex and where there are loopholes, companies will find them. That’s why you need an experienced legal professional on your side.
If you’ve suffered a workplace injury and you need advice, don’t delay in contacting the Vance Law Firm. We have more than 25 years of experience in handling workers’ compensation cases. Whether you simply need an informed legal opinion or you want someone to fight for you in court, we can help. We know how employers and insurance companies try to avoid paying compensation. If you want to get the benefits you deserve, reach out to a personal injury lawyer in Alabama without delay.